Defending that which needs no defense

A trending news story today is regarding Heather Graham. In the article, she discusses her decision to not have children. What struck me, and simultaneously annoyed the shit out of me, was the tone of the article. She was portrayed as defending her decision. Why? Why does a woman, in this supposedly enlightened culture that professes equality for women, find herself in a position where she needs to defend her choice to not have a family? I hear the word “choice” thrown around an awful lot in matters of sexuality. Why is the choice to not utilize her reproductive system not given the same respect? If you choose to abort a child then you are championed and celebrated, but if you choose not to get pregnant at all you are villainized?

In the interview, Heather states, “I do feel like, as a woman, culturally, you’re not allowed to say, ‘I didn’t want to have kids.’ Because it’s like, ‘What’s wrong with you?'”.
Exactly. I have seen it culturally as well as with people that I know in which women, married or otherwise, have decided that they do not want to have children. I have seen the blowback. They are asked if something is wrong physically. If nothing is offered as physically wrong, then it is assumed that  the woman has something wrong emotionally.
Have you noticed that it isn’t the same with men? Heather further states, “I think as a man it’s like, ‘Oh yeah, cool, you didn’t want to have kids.” Why is that? I swear, and I hope that I’m wrong, that it is the regrettably not outdated notion that because you can, you should. How Catholic.

Ms. Graham further stated, “Now, women are getting freer to just make their own choices.” I hope she is correct. But to me it seems to be wishful thinking. Because in addition to the unnecessary physical and emotional scrutiny over a woman’s choice of whether to have children, they are additionally subject to something that men who choose not to be parents also must attend to.
The label of Selfish.
I’m surprised that Heather Graham didn’t get accused of that.

Selfish is one of those words that carry an unnecessarily negative connotation. Yes, one definition defines selfishness as being devoted to or caring only for oneself; concerned primarily with one’s own interests, benefits, welfare, etc., regardless of others.
Still, another is characterized by or manifesting concern or care only for oneself.

On the surface, both are worded a bit harshly. Particularly with the use of the words “regardless of others” and “oneself”. If you remove them what you really have is a person that tends to their own self-interest first. The first question that begs to be asked is what is so wrong with that!?
I am quite sure that the many people who choose not to take on the awesome responsibility, and burden, of raising children are doing so because they are focusing on their own lives. I say good for them.
Parenting is wonderful and rewarding. I am a father of 4 amazing kids. I love them more than anything. But raising them was 90% of everything I did, every choice I made, and every worry that I had. It was emotionally and financially exhausting. To do parenting right, that is how you need to approach it.
Well, what if your career aspirations, your finances, your educational goals, and your plan for your life don’t allow the time, commitment, love, and resources needed to have a family? What if you simply know that you can’t, or dare I say, don’t want to do it?

We have an obligation to take care of ourselves in this world. If you’ve ever been on a plane, the flight attendant tells you to put your own mask on before assisting others.

We are taught that we are here exclusively for others. I debate that, we should be allowed to choose to take care of ourselves at some point. It is a shame something so logical and essential needs to be defended.


The other day I overheard a young woman loudly state, while involved in a heated conversation with what I can assume was her mother, that she deserves to be happy. She followed it up by emphatically stating that it is her “Constitutional right” to be so. I wanted to jump in so badly and offer that the pursuit of happiness is mentioned only in the Declaration of Independence and nowhere mentioned in the Constitution, that the only promise implied was the pursuit, and that it was only meant as an assurance from a young Country that it was committed to freedom for all individuals, without persecution, to pursue God-given (inalienable) rights, one of them being happy, which in and of itself cannot be guaranteed.

But common sense and experience prevailed. I inferred her age and concluded that not only would I not make any kind of meaningful impact on the conversation, but also that it is not entirely her fault. She was a twenty-something, a member of a generation that has been raised on validated feelings, cancel culture, banned history, and soft truths delivered in a manner as not to offend delicate sensitivities. I kept to myself, knowing that while I meant well, I would probably come across as an old fart dishing out unsolicited opinions. I could see how the conversation would go. I could even see the ending, the introduction of the concept of fairness.

This is where my concerns for today’s generation lie; the expectation or assumption that life is fair. In the great quest for equity on all fronts, somebody made the bold assumption that all things, including happiness, would be evenly distributed. They want life to be fair.
Newsflash: LIFE.IS.NOT.FAIR. Don’t expect it to be and you will never be disappointed.

I have had a hard life. Many challenges have risen to meet me on the road of life, and I have had my share of hardship. My life has been a struggle to say the very least. But that does not mean I haven’t experienced happiness. I have had many moments that I can recall, and they are etched in my brain. But they were brief and fleeting. In between those moments was everything else that I, and countless other people have to do every day.
Such as dealing with people and things that I did not want to but had to.
Working jobs that I hated because people depended on me and there was no plan B if I lost my job.
Biting my tongue and not punching the fucking shit out of somebody because I either worked for or with them, or I feared going to jail.
Facing the truth even when it was painful.
Allowing my children to feel hurt and sad because I knew that by fixing their problems for them, they wouldn’t learn anything.
I’ve had heartache, illness, financial problems, and relationship issues. There are so many examples, but I’ve made my point. I and countless others have survived all of those things and so much more and didn’t develop a victim mentality or lament the lack of fairness. If you get how life works, you do it because that is what life is: survival. Getting through all the crap in order to enjoy something, anything, that makes you smile…that’s happiness.

Chase it, create a healthy definition, and appreciate it when you have it. Know that you are not entitled to it. And don’t expect to be happy. Because life is not fair.

Not my dog Sam

I have a 4-legged enigma sleeping on my feet right now. He is an adorable 4-year-old English Cocker, brown with big, thoughtful eyes.
He’s not mt dog, he’s my mother’s. I say this tongue in cheek because, while mom and I share a house he is solely and defiantly her dog. It doesn’t matter that I am as responsible for loving and caring for Sammy (Samuel L. Spaniel, guess who came up with that name), despite his current spot on my feet he usually wants very little to do with me.
It bugs me. A little.
I could dedicate a whole post to how stupid it is that I should let a dog affect my self-image at all, but I won’t. It’s not that he doesn’t like me, he is just unhealthily attached and fixated on my mom. He has been since the day she met him at a breeder’s house on a cold Connecticut morning, 4 hours from home. As she described it, “Of the 6 puppies to choose from this one chose me.” And he still, to this day chooses her. And if she’s not around he then chooses nobody. Even if I’m sitting in the same room.

It’s comical in a way. He snubs me like a mean girl in any High School. And I don’t take it personally, I was joking about that. He will play with me, let me throw his ball and make me chase him to get it back. He is happy to take chicken from my outstretched hand and when it’s dinner time he will come to me. But if mom is out he pouts until she comes home. That is both difficult to deal with and hard to watch. It’s difficult, because, in her absence I have to actually pick him up and put him outside, no exaggeration, to pee. Walks can be more like drags.
It’s hard to watch because when Mom is not around he’s actually sad. It is the worst case of separation anxiety I have ever seen, canine or human.
When I think about what bothers me the most, I think it is that I want a dog of my own. I don’t have a place of my own so I can’t. So the next best thing would be to feel that the dog we have is mine as well. The sad reality is, no matter how much attention I give, how many ear scratches and tummy rubs I give, and how many walks I take him on…he is not my dog.

Except when we are in Florida. Mom is here 6 months a year now and this is the first year I have come to visit. I was pleased to see what a nice place it is, how beautiful the weather is, and how friendly the people are. I was not prepared for the dog that sure looks like Sam, but isn’t. I don’t get it. He is friendly to me, relaxed and affectionate, and when mom goes out he is happy to be in my company. He is so different, it’s quite strange.
I guess he is a Florida dog. I’m different when I’m here as well. I’m not going to try to figure it out. I’m just going to run with it. I’m sure once he comes home in May he will return to ignoring me again.

I’ll just file this under the “go figure” category.

Stoic and didn’t know it

I’ve always desired to live my life by a Philosophy, a theory or attitude as a guiding principle for my behavior. It’s a source of great curiosity to me because, before I really explored my need for this, it felt like I was a protégé without the luxury of a mentor. It was as if I wasn’t leading my own way, but instead I was looking for someone or something to guide me.
Which made me a follower. When it comes to who you are, nobody wants to be a lump of wet clay.
That realization saddened me and served as a revelation as well. I looked hard at things and realized the many ways in which I tried to be someone or something that I am not. It took far too long, but eventually I developed the ability to be myself. Of course, that presented a whole different set of challenges. “Myself” was not a guy that I wanted to spend time with. I am working on that and it is a challenge that I am not taking lightly. In fact, it is almost entirely what I think, dream, read and write about. I am taking a particularly hard look at where the “follower” in me ends and where the unique individual in me begins. After much investigation, the invevitable conclusion was that I was not living a life and presenting a persona that was consistent to my core beliefs and desires.
In short, I didn’t know who or what the hell I am!

Thus began the most difficult thing I have ever done, taking a searching and fearless look into what really mattered to me. To do so required me to identify every way in which my life was ruled by convention and to then challenge it. The good news I think I have a better idea now. But I wish I knew how I was able to deny myself the liberation of living by my core values and beliefs, my very nature, for so many years of my life. Was I afraid of challenging the status quo?
I wasn’t in need of a great “philosophy of life”. No school of thought or set of principles is going to serve every situation. I believe that what I needed was consistency and I was in search of a means to maintain it.

I’ve learned a lot about myself of late. But learning is not enough. I must embrace what I have learned, live it and not shy away from it, and create real growth. As a good start, I am definitely defying convention, the very thing that made me a follower.

For the sake of brevity, I will not list all of the many ways that I have changed my thinking, I just want to touch on one. I always thought that I was complex. Yes, I know, all men say that. But as it turns out I’m very simple. Not Carl from Sling Blade simple, simple in that I don’t need or want much. I like things to be manageable, regardless of how difficult situations become. Simple to understand and consistent in what I stand for. Simple as defined by the familiar colloquialism “you get what you see.” If only there were a school of philosophy that embraced simple existence, harmonious and non-intrusive. One for those who want to live with the earth, not just on it.

Imagine my joy when I (re)discovered Stoicism! There IS a Philosophy that I CAN use and adhere to as I work towards the life I crave.

I have been a Stoic and didn’t know it!


Having gone on a retreat/hiatus of sorts, I have had some much-needed down time to decompress and do some thinking. The deep thinking predictably led me to assess my life and do a proper inventory. Inventories are difficult and can be painful. If a business owner were to become complacent in the inventory of his goods, he may find that he is in worse off than he thought financially. It works the same way when you inventory your own life. You may not like what you come up with and at that point you are faced with a choice; to accept it as it is or to seek a solution. To seek a solution requires asking questions, and that is where I am at in the process. I began questioning everything.

The first thing major question I addressed was whether I left my job for the right reasons. I had put in 6 months as a Recovery Case Manager working with those struggling with addiction. I loved it and by all accounts I was great at it. Entering a field such as Recovery without a background (educationally or by virtue of being an addict oneself) is difficult and requires a specific skill set and a proven ability to display empathy, understanding, and listening skills. Despite not using my Psych degree since I graduated in the early 90’s, it was a roll of the dice. But the complicated series of events that I call my life qualified me just fine. I became a thorough, relatable, competent and effective Case Manager and I was making a difference.
 But it kicked my physical and emotional ass. Health reasons, physical more than mental, drove my decision. I am immunocompromised due to my Kidney Transplant and I was working in a fucking Petrie Dish. After contracting COVID twice, a stomach flu and a cold that I couldn’t shake for over a month I made the decision. But the job satisfaction aspect nagged at me. If you need to know just ONE thing about me to understand the possible loftiness and intense nature of my statements, know that I am ALL about purpose. I have received the gift of life and have escaped the Bastard known as DEATH more times than any one many should be allowed. I therefore have the attitude of gratitude. If I stopped doing a job that satisfies my mentality of giving back and paying it forward, what am I going to do in its place? 
It didn’t take me long to realize that I am not going to lose that side of me, as I have lost so many other things that gave me joy. Therefore, I resolved that I would continue to volunteer my time and resources to causes that matter to me. That gave me comfort about my decision to leave a job that satisfied my soul. I vowed to research local charities that I could volunteer for; Make-A-Wish, Animal Shelters, Veteran’s causes and Motorcycle groups that focus on charitable rides. Therein would lie my answer.

I was then troubled to realize, after a few weeks of semi-retirement that another question had risen up and begged answering. Why was I not full of that desire to go do all of those things that would adequately fill the void created by leaving my job? Where was that motivated guy? That guy was laying on the sofa, eating junk food, watching TV and not doing anything productive at all. I will cut myself a small break, I wasn’t feeling good. I was still recovering from the virus that made me leave my job. And it was Winter. The cold weather, constant snow storms and lack of sunlight are not my friends. Not excuses but worthy of mention. Still, I was concerned that I was going to fall into a regrettable cycle; lazy, unmotivated, unaccomplished, and lacking purpose.

That is when I decided to head to see Mom in West Palm. I vowed to get moving physically and mentally. To walk, workout, read and write at a pace that I have never before. I have checked all the boxes so far. But to write everything I have come up with is going to take some time, due to the number of questions that I have raised and, thankfully, I have the desire to put to paper.

Fortunately, time is something I now have a lot of.

Question Everything

Question everything. That is where I am now. I do not know how it happened, but the way I look at everything seems to have changed lately. Two things come immediately to mind; it happened quite quickly, and I love what I am seeing. In short, everything is upside down and on its side. As Dr. Venkman so eloquently stated in Ghostbusters…

Things happen that way with me. I have epiphanies, moments in which my eyes suddenly open, my mind shifts, my vision becomes clear, and things suddenly make sense. Not always forever in some cases, but enough to enable insight and encourage change. My most recent epiphany is here to stay. It is not a fleeting thought or a passing fancy that serves to temporarily inspire or provoke thought. Instead, as a result, the world around me presents if I were a young child. A world in which everything is a new and exciting experience.
Somewhere, at some point in the last 6 or 8 months my understanding of countless aspects of life, my own and those of the wonderful world around me, shifted (morphed?) in such a way that I am questioning, with the intent to be and do better, my understanding and perception of everything. To name a few,
Conversations and events old and new.
The world around me and,
My role and purpose in it.

I find myself very motivated by what I am feeling. I feel like I am on the right track. In many ways, I feel like a different person. Where there once stood a man that, while mostly positive, was prone at times to see things in a very cynical and unproductive light, now stands a man that looks at every interaction, recalls every conversation, and replays every situation to assess if there is anything that could be learned from it and what could have been done better? It’s truly a liberating and exciting feeling to experience such an injection of emotional vitality and intellectual stimulation at a time in my life in which I was dreading stagnation and lack of interest in learning or applying anything new.

This, in conjunction with my current deep dive into the Stoic Lifestyle, is giving me the exact boost I desperately craved.
That’s enough for this post, but expect more (I do hope you read it and share it with me) as I share that which is in question, my old take vs the new, and the effect it will have on me as I continue to work towards “better”.

On happiness

A friend reached out by text last night to ask me how my hiatus in Florida is going. Without really thinking about a prepared answer, I replied that I’m reading a lot, writing more than ever, and doing some hard thinking. My friend must not have found that out of the ordinary, based on her reply “Cool, have fun”. But I took a look at the sentence I had typed and saw more in what I had said. For starters, what am I “hard thinking” about? And since I always think in such a manner, why did I feel the need to mention it?
I soon realized that this trip, this hiatus, is an escape for me. It is, and not to put myself in too high of a category, a Hemingway-esque retreat. I am not just escaping the great “never-ending NH winter of ’23”, I am escaping the life I have been leading.
I am at a crossroads in my life.
I haven’t shared with anyone here my current situation. I have taken a hiatus from the job that I enjoyed so much. It was a very difficult decision, one that I agonized over before, during, and after my notice was completed. It pains me to say that I still don’t know if I made the right decision.
I was good at it.
I was diving in, I was helping people, I was using the few talents that I had attained over a long, disappointing, and fucked up life to actually help people. In my 6 months as a Recovery Case Manager, I made a difference. My life, for perhaps the first time (other than being a Dad to 4 amazing children), had a purpose.
As not to lose my reputation of being a fucking idiot, I left it.

I’m not prepared to go into the many reasons I made the difficult decision that led me here. But they make sense. I have a terrible history of making poor decisions and then rationalizing them to fit the desired comfort level. I’m not doing that here. Everyone I have spoken to about this, including the people I worked for, agree that my decision was the right one and for the right reasons.

Let’s just say for now that I am at a point where I need, and am able to, do something for myself. My life and career, mostly up and down with brief flashes of potential, has never been about me.
I want to work on my happiness.
Happiness is not guaranteed in life and nobody knows that better than I do. I am, if nothing else, a realist. But I am in a position in life where I have an opportunity to pursue it. I do not believe I am selfish for wanting to make the back nine holes of my life about what makes me happy. I have never done that. I make no complaint or selfish claims; my life has been like that of so many others. Raising a family, getting involved in community, working for other people and being paid to advance their causes and sell their products. It’s what we do. But am I selfish for wanting to advance my own causes and agendas?

So here I sit, reading Kierkegaard, Marcus Aurelius, and Seneca, making notes and entertaining ideas of how to create and maintain a simple and fulfilling life. I’m creating a new template for what and who I am going forward. Make no mistake, I still have every intention of fulfilling the promise I made to the universe of humility, faith, hope and charity. But I need to do so in a way that makes me happy.

Some people at my age are just reclaiming their happiness. Me? I’m just finding mine for the first time. This may be my comeback.

What does it matter,I still learned it

Before I got married I was at a cocktail party rubbing elbows with my fiance’s family. I was talking to a distinguished and clearly educated gent and the subject of the Korean Conflict somehow came up. Now, I did have a fair amount of knowledge on that because, like I said, I later educated myself. But there I stood, a pizza cook on the threshold of a potential conversational Armageddon. But I held in. Fortuitously, he came to an impasse in the discussion and was stuck on the parallel that the US military failed to cross, the one that would have been an act of war. I chimed in,
“That would be the 38th Parallel.” I was then complimented as being a smart young man. What he didn’t know is that I got that from the Rodney Dangerfield comedy Back to School.
I was reminded of that today as I was reading an excerpt from one of my favorite books, A Prayer for Owen Meaney. There is no shortage of reasons why I love the book, I have always been a sucker for a coming-of-age story and it’s a great one. The excerpt that caught my eye was dedicated to the birth of the all-time opiate of the masses, the Television (my apologies to Karl Marx), in which the narrator observes the progression of the power that the television eventually held in his home. He told of how his Grandmother, who was always staunchly opposed to TV finally caved, and how the grandson reluctantly fell under its spell as well. Our hero Owen Meaney, ever the virtuous one, chastised the Grandson for watching TV. At which time the Grandson defended it by offering how many ways that it was educational. Owen promptly dismissed this, his unsolicited opinion was that TV was a slovenly way to educate oneself.

I was amused and a little embarrassed when confronted with this. While I consider myself adequately educated, I have attained a fair amount of passable knowledge, some decent Trivial Pursuit-ish information as well as some solid nuggets of pop culture as well as high society through TV and movies.
Now, of course, TV was not educational in 1958, the time period in discussion. You watched what was available and a lot of it was garbage. It’s not a fair comparison to today’s Cable and streaming options that offer many educational options. Which I take advantage of. Despite even that… some of my greatest stories that deal with gaining “knowledge” through unlikely and slovenly sources occurred many years ago.

Most of my knowledge of Opera, Classical Music, American society during the Great Depression, Prohibition, wartime, etc., comes exclusively from Bugs Bunny cartoons. That’s right. “Kill the Wabbit” taught me about Opera.
In addition, most of my understanding of politics I can directly attribute to Berkeley Breathed and Gary Trudeau, of Bloom County and Doonesbury fame, respectively. As a skirt-chasing teenager (and young adult and well, forever) dedicated to doing the bare minimum, it was Bloom County and Doonesbury that piqued my interest in the news of the day as they lampooned politics and known as well as not-so-well-known cultural figures. Where else did I hear about the Anti-gay activism of Anita Bryant, the anti-feminist Phyllis Schlafly, the disappearance of known American atheist Madalyn Murray-O’Hair, the Televangelist scandals, the Contras and Sandanistas, the Star Wars antics of the Reagan era, I could go on but I won’t. Suffice it to say that otherwise boring (to me) subject matter and events were portrayed comically way or ironically and consequently raised my interest. An interest in being current and informed on the matters of the world, and in being able to take a humorous, even absurdist interpretation. In the case of Bloom County, the political landscape was portrayed often through Children and anthropomorphized naive but politically charged meadow animals. Think of a Hedgehog, a rabbit, and a Penguin having a caucus to nominate a dead cat for President.
That shit was funny!
And it had the right effect on me, it got me interested. Which fortunately led to a lot of self-education of the shit that I should have learned in High School.

Snob appeal, slob appeal. Whatever. Learning can come from many sources, highbrow and otherwise. What matters is that I learned something, and I received the added bonus of getting a good laugh in the process.

Slovenly” Perhaps. Effective? Absolutely.

I won’t chase you…

I have become cognizant of something that I have perhaps known about for a long time but not truly aware of its hold on me. I am closed off more often than not. This is not to be confused with friendly; I am very friendly and accepting to all.
Once the walls come down.
But it needs to be stated that my very demeanor unless I know you, suggests the following:
Good luck getting close enough to me where I will allow you to hurt or reject me.

I have been hurt for the last time. I sure hope so, at least. The last one still stings. I let her in. I showed her what was behind the curtain. I dropped my guard and I opened up my life, all the good and the bad. In return, she took my heart, stomped it to a bloody pulp, and gave it back to me in a “to-go” bag. I don’t blame her. Mistakes were made on both sides. Once the “fucking each other senseless” phase began to wane, our incompatibility revealed itself. It wasn’t that we weren’t good for each other, it was that her dark side (which I was properly warned about) emerged and that, combined with her inability to share her life with anyone, drove us apart. The way she did it cut me deep. I took it hard. I thought I had finally found the one and instead I was holding a bloody bag.
It took me quite a while to realize that I was good to her and, despite the heartbreak, it was her loss and not mine. Reconciliation with her occupies zero space in my head. The lingering questions and profound heartache have the full space rented.

A friend of ten years became conspicuously absent from our usual texts and FB exchanges. I checked his profile. He had blocked me. I understand that FB is silly but this was an actual friend. I called him. He didn’t want to talk to me. All I could get from him was that his wife was mad at me (for reasons I still don’t know) and he, being a dutiful husband (or pussy) followed suit to keep the peace. I was furious and I stayed that way for some time. It hurt that a friend that I had a very profound connection with would discard me so easily. I’m mostly over it. It’s now more annoying than painful.

Another friend of more than 10 years, whom I met in a fraternal organization, gradually became standoffish and distant. I came to learn that he was jealous of some recognition I had received. His envy, despite my inclusivity and deliberate humility, was palpable. When it came his turn to succeed me I was complimentay, supportive and genuinely happy for him. He in turn disrepected me publicly in a way that stung as badly as the dagger Brutus plunged into Caesar. I was, and still am as of this writing, very upset with him. Sadly, I’m not entirely sure he knows he did it. He has shown himself to be pompous, arrogant and much disliked so it is feasible to add clueless to this list. But I’m not going to tell him about my humiliation. Because he, like the ones discussed here and any others that may come to mind at a future date, are not WORTHY of my love and friendship.

The new me, the one that places value on myself and is now aware of my worth, will not chase anyone. I will not give of myself to people who are not worthy of what I have to offer. I am a great leader when tasked, a dedicated and loyal friend to the end, and in a relationship I am generous and caring to a fault. I bring a great deal of value to those I care about.

But going forward, you have to be worthy of it. And if you discard it, and me in the process, I will not run after you. I will instead wish you a nice journey.


One of the most hotly debated queries of all time is, “Can a person change?”
It is one of the questions that cause people to compartmentalize, drill down on and sub-categorize to the point of exhaustion. Some distinctions are valid; are we speaking physically?
My answer: Yes of course.
Are we speaking emotionally or spiritually?
Yes again.
Many will disagree on that one, they will inevitably toss out “Nature” and maybe even offer up the Scorpion and the Frog as a backup. Do you know the Scorpion and the Frog?
A Scorpion approaches a Frog on the Riverbank and asks to ride across the river on the back of the Frog. The Frog objects, stating that the Scorpion will sting him and they will both drown.
The Scorpion replies, “That is illogical. If I sting you we will both drown.”
Assured, the Frog complies. Halfway across, the Scorpion stings the Frog. As they both are sinking to their deaths, the Frog asks, “Why did you do that? Now are both going to drown.”
The Scorpion replied, “I’m a Scorpion. It’s my Nature.”

I unequivocally believe that severe mental illness aside, we are all capable of changing how we are. I know this because I did it. I am nothing special, nor have I ever made claim to be. I’m not wealthy, particularly intelligent or clever, nor am I a great problem solver. I do not possess a great secret. I am simply self-aware and free enough (not completely but I’m working on it) of Ego and silly pride to take an unflinching look at myself and realize who I was. It was hard because I perceived myself as an entirely different person than I actually was. That was a tough pill to swallow. But I did it. And I worked on it.
Therein lies my not-so-secret secret.
Hard work and accountability.
Taking the realizations for what they are (have you noticed that few people like the truth anymore because it hurts their feelings?), facing them, swallowing your pride, and actually fucking doing something about it is hard work. It’s unpleasant. Sometimes it hurts.
The work is akin to the 9th step of AA, making amends. You find yourself apologizing to yourself at multiple stages of your existence, asking forgiveness and offering actual amends, as opposed to meaningless apologies.
What do they say? Words are meaningless, Action is what matters. Even in baby steps, forward progress is what matters.

If you can take epiphanies and the subsequent insights and awareness and channel them into doing better then you have made a change. It’s a copout to blame your nature for not reaching your potential. Your nature is what you will be if you don’t want to do the work. Your ultimate self, which I define as the “you” that you can live with, is achievable. We come from the earth. The earth is heavy with clay. Clay can be molded by the hands of man into whatever form we choose.

I’m sure that I will get some blowback on this. I welcome the discourse. Again, I did it. I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror for most of my life. I made the decision to take an unflinching look at my life and saw the need for change. The alternative would have been to just accept my behavior and choose to live with it, expecting everyone that I ever interact with between now and the day that I die to just deal with it. Now, I don’t love the guy I see now but I can work with him. All because I decided to go to work. I am hopeful that I will die a man of purpose and substance, not just a guy that people managed to put up with.
I am a work in progress. Slow progress, but progress just the same.